Final Rights

Reclaiming the American Way of Death

Let’s Get It Started!

Posted By on April 26, 2011

It’s been five years since Lisa Carlson and I started researching and writing Final Rights, and it’s like Christmas morning to have the actual copies in our hands. We hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it. If you’re curious about the book, check out the first chapter, Circling the Hearses, free. It tells the story of how the American funeral business went from your local furniture store on Main Street in the 1800s to the $15-billion-a-year behemoth it is today. how to seo your website

As the book begins to sell, we’d love to hear from readers and potential readers. What do you want to talk about? Funeral prices? Whether it’s legal to perform a funeral yourself without hiring a funeral home? Natural burials without formaldehyde and concrete cases?

Help us shape this blog by telling us what you want to talk about—leave us a comment below!


4 Responses to “Let’s Get It Started!”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have read the portion of your book listed above and am baffled. I am a younger person, only 28 years of age, who has no thought as to what is going to happen upon my death. Additionally, I understand that I am likely not your target audience, which might render all my comments irrelevant to you, but reading what you have written makes me think less of your cause. The vocal minority of America is what runs the media and I felt, in reading this, that you are only trying to create press through controversy, rather than drive true change in the industry, which is what I would hope you are trying to achieve. In publishing something so biased towards your belief without regard to the other side in any light creates an unbelievable and not credible argument. I have a hard time believing that everything in the funeral profession is wrong, you have all the answers, and that all funeral directors are out to get our money. A suggestion I have for you, if you want to persuade more people towards your cause, is to not be so harsh and consider the other side of the argument as well.

  2. Josh Slocum says:

    I appreciate that you took the time to comment, but I too am puzzled. The book is based on many years of experience advocating for consumers and dealing directly with the funeral industry. Unfortunately, much of it really is as disturbing as Carlson and I document. We are arguing against abuse and exploitation, not against funeral directors per se. In so far as we want to effect change, we have to expose those abuses. Arguing for one’s point of view is not “bias,” it’s what all of us do when we approach issues we care about. You’re clearly bothered by something, but without specifics it’s impossible to know exactly what you take issue with. Do you dispute that the examples in the first chapter – requiring families to hire funeral directors by law, substituting a cheaper casket than the one paid for – constitute wrongdoing? Do you find it reasonable for industry trade lobbying groups to influence the legislative process in a way that shuts down competition and harms grieving families’ freedom of choice and ability to control costs?

    If you read the entire book, you’ll see we cover a lot of ground, including highlighting examples of the forward-thinking and ethical practitioners in the funeral business. We’re lucky to count many of them as friends.

    But that does not change the fact that there are serious, systemic problems in the funeral industry.

    Josh Slocum

  3. Lisa Carlson says:

    To “anonymous,” the first poster–

    You say you have given no thought to what would happen if you die. Since death comes in many ways, I have to ask if you have family and friends who care about you? If so, do you have a sense of what they might expect or want in the case of an untimely death for you? Do you have any idea what you might wish or not want to happen for such an event? I’m guessing you haven’t even gotten that far in thinking ahead for yourself yet.

    I am curious to know in what state you live. I might have some specific examples of funeral mischief to share with you. One of the funeral director friends Josh and I now have originally started out as a critic of our work. When we shared with him the actual episodes that we parry day to day, he was appalled. He did a 180 turn and is now trying to clean up the industry, both here in VT and writing for a national industry magazine.

    You claim we have a bias. But in my case I’ve followed the funeral industry for over 20 years. (Josh is a little more recent but no less well-grounded in his knowledge.) Furthermore, I’m one of the few people in the country who have a detailed knowledge of funeral law in every state that spans more than 20 years. Take a look at what the funeral directors are trying to do in Minnesota! (See blog above.) Then tell me who is biased!

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